Mar 4, 2010

Abhay Deol, Movie Compass

Abhay Deol's greatest talent in films, on the evidence of his seven releases so far, is by no means his acting. (He is what people call a 'sincere' actor - often a euphemism for 'tries hard, succeeds sometimes, and doesn't annoy', though he is getting noticeably better with each outing). Instead, his talent (and it's a rare one in our films) is that of making excellent choices. In turn, to reasonable film watchers, that means Abhay Deol is a very reliable recommendation engine, whose very presence in a movie signals that it is worth a watch.

Of course, crew-based recommendations is a matter of personal choice. For me, Christopher Nolan and Vishal Bhardwaj still remain the two other people whose mere association with a movie (as writers or directors) is sufficient to invest time and money in the result. What's interesting with Deol is that unlike Nolan or Vishal, he has very little control over the ultimate destiny of his films. Therefore, this uni-dimensional algorithm is likely to SEGFAULT ("crash", let's say, for you non-geeks) sooner than later. But seven interesting movies, with an eighth releasing tomorrow, is not a bad sequence to have.

So far:

1. Socha Na Tha: a romantic comedy that asked the question "what happens if a fellow falls in a love with a girl after he's gone to 'see her' and told everyone he doesn't like her". In his debut, Imtiaz Ali showed his penchant for finding unusual twists out of typical situations. Deol plays a rich kid with too many loves on his mind.

2. Ahistaa Ahistaa: Imtiaz Ali wrote this for friend and debutant Shivam Nair, the tale of a marriage witness-for-hire who takes care of a girl who's been stood up at the registrar's office. The unnecessary insertion of Himesh's songs (at an all time peak then) didn't help this little film.

3. Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd: a bunch of tales so light that they escaped into the sky on release. The Abhay Deol-Minissha Lambaa segment was easily the most surreal. Anurag Kashyap turned Deol into the first ever Parsi superhero (spoiler alert, select to read!). Who would have thought?

4. Ek Chalis Ki Last Local: another variation on the "man falls into the night" theme, this time with lots of purple lungis thrown in. Funny without being special

5. Manorama Six Feet Under: In this Rajasthani version of Chinatown, Deol is mediocre at most things: writing, leading a family, even at being corrupt. A brave choice for a Hindi cinema leading man and probably the best film he's been in.

6. Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!: a movie that had the colossal misfortune of being released the same week as India's most audacious terrorist attack. His most complex character, that of a loveless con artist, marked further progress.

7. Dev.D: in which he created the concept, played it with the haze, and even strapped on a camera. This film about a spoilt brat was ultimately spoilt because its writer-director found love. Drat.

Road, Movie is up next.

11 comments:

Upasna said...

What a coincidence had a discussion on Abhay Deol just today! And came to a similar conclusion, he makes excellent choices, must be one heck of a secure person...I liked him best in Manorama & Lucky...Kashyap sort of overshadowed him in Dev D (not in a comparable, but what was striking way)

Ramanand said...

:-) I think he has been one of the topics of the week, so not completely surprised.

vishal12 said...

His knack for selecting the right scripts and talented directors is also evident from the fact that all his first five movies were directed by debutants.

I am a huge fan of Abhay Deol, and can't wait to see Road, Movie.

By the way, why did you say it was Kashyap who wrote Abhay's character in HTPL? Didn't he just wrote the dialogues for this movie (written by Reema Kagti)?

Vishal

vishal12 said...

His knack for selecting the right scripts and talented directors is also evident from the fact that all his first five movies were directed by debutants.

I am a huge fan of Abhay Deol, and can't wait to see Road, Movie.

By the way, why did you say it was Kashyap who wrote Abhay's character in HTPL? Didn't he just wrote the dialogues for this movie (written by Reema Kagti)?

Vishal

Ramanand said...

Vishal: HTPL: oh, right. I was under the false impression he wrote the story as well. My mistake. Let me know if "Road, Movie" works for you :-) Yet to see it, but have heard of mixed feelings about it.

Vedang said...

sad to say but Road, Movie is truly horrible. sigh. never mind, I still think Abhay is the best of the acting lot we have around today.

yogsma said...

I had similar discussion about Abhay Deol when Road, movie released and at that time I had thought that Ramanand should write something about this actor. Excellent work, nice to read about an actor who is totally better than his two brothers.

tilo1583 said...

I really liked Abhay's movies - Oye Lucky and Dev D. Honeymoon Travels was supposed to be light and frothy, but unfortunately I found it to be utterly silly, especially the Abhay and Minisha part.

vishal12 said...

@tilo1583 - IMO, the Abhay and Manisha part was the best one in HTML! The movie was like melange of various issues that (married) couples faces -- newly weds to mid-lifers to old-age couples. Abhay and Manisha were the sole outliers. They were the only ones without a single marriage related issues.

And then you learn that they were "super humans"! Of course! The director hence suggests (of course tongue-in-cheek) that if you are human, and you get married, there are going to be issues! The only way you're not going to face any problems is, if you're not human!

I loved that! That's good writing.

-- Vishal

Ramanand said...

Vedang: oh, pity. I haven't seen it yet :P Others have a sneaky feeling I've induced them to watch it and save me money :-) Though, in my defence, I did mention AD can't really help the ultimate fate of a movie.

Vishal: HTPL, not HTML :-) I agree with you, I kind of liked that bit too (sorry tilo1583 :-) )

Sandip said...

Abhay Deol's movie compass - nicely put JR! And me feels the same... not sure how, but this guy draws close similarity with the other choosy one, THE Khan! Another thing I like about him is there's no / very little lip sync in his movie songs (don't remember if he ever did that, but there must been some exception for sure)... didn't see 6 feet under... rest all were worth the money and time and better than others amongst his contemporaries...